Archive for April, 2014

It is a common mistake to assume X number of ports in an etherchannel equates to the common port speed * X; however, this is grossly incorrect and I’ll attempt to explain this behavior to you in layman terms

First, you should ALWAYS combine etherchannel bonds in even numbers (2, 4, 6, or 8). Why? It is the hashing algorithm used to determine how to load balance across the Etherchannel, more to come on how that works.

Second, you need to examine the traffic patterns on your network. If you have a model where your servers live in the “core” of your office and you have access switches connecting back to the core through etherchannel, you’re likely to have a lot of different source addresses (IP and MAC address) going to a common destination address (IP and MAC address). This is especially true of a backup server solution pulling backups for all your computers in the network or for users sending their default gateway traffic to a router which has a L3 port-channel configured from the core switch, which is a common network pattern you’ll find today. Finally, you can have server-to-server traffic patterns, where the source and destination IP addresses remain constant; however, the servers are probably utilizing numerous source and destination TCP/UDP ports; thus, the Etherchannel carrying this traffic needs to be adjusted. What about if the both models are going across the same Etherchannel (clients to the server and server-to-server) and you can’t build a separate etherchannel? The only recommendation here is to examine your traffic carefully, figure out what is more effective for your organization, we won’t get into that here.

Third, you need to understand what load balancing algorithms are available to you. However, take notice, this largely depends on the equipment you’re using. If your organization, like one I have worked inside, has decided that using 3650/3750 devices as a “core” to their network, you’re limited to the basic; however, if your organization uses true core switches (4500, 6500, 6800) you have all the options available to you. I will list the options available in ALL models below

  • src-ip – Source IP address only
  • dst-ip – Destination IP address only
  • src-dst-ip – Source and destination IP address only (XOR)
  • src-mac – Source mac address only
  • dst-mac – Destination mac address only
  • src-dst-mac – Source and Destination mac address only (XOR)

Now, here is what you’ll find available on true core switch models, in addition to the above:

  • src-port – Source port only
  • dst-port – Destination port only
  • src-dst-port – Source and Destination port only (XOR)
  • src-dst-mixed-ip-port – Source and destination IP along with the Source and Destination ports
  • src-mixed-ip-port – Source IP address and port
  • dst-mixed-ip-port – Destination IP address and port

The above commands all depend on what you’re running in your infrastructure, hardware and code level. It pays to put in the appropriate devices according to their duties. If you’re using devices like a 3560/3750 as your “core” you could be out of luck considering the few options available to you with one exception, you can look at installed a 10GB module in your switch and running Etherchannel 10GbE. This WILL NOT fix the load balancing issue but it will provide you the increased bandwidth to get you through until you’re capable of installing the appropriate hardware to support your needs This is given you’re using fiber for Inter-switch links and it supports 10GbE across the distances you’re looking to span.

Understanding your traffic patterns will be a process; however, one I think a lot of you forget is about the L3 Etherchannel you could be using between your core switch and your router. Think about this, the switch resolves the next-hop default gatway and this NEVER changes; thus, destination traffic address is always the same; thus, if you want to see if you’re able to utilize that Etherchannel more appropriately, set your etherchannel to hash based on source mac address towards the router.

I won’t let this get too long, I’ll follow up with some nice diagrams later.

Much like on firewalls you can create object groups in Nexus, which you can utilize when you’re implementing ACLs

object-group ip address {OBJECTNAME}

ip access-list {ACL_NAME} permit ip addrgroup {OBJECTNAME} [destination]

Makes like simple, huh? What about showing the access-list that has been configured with an object group? Well, under the show access-lists summary you won’t see this, you’ll need to “expand”

show access-lists {ACL_NAME} expanded

In Cisco IOS, this is a monumental pain in the ass if you have a lot of interfaces, typically you’re searching the running config by eye or, if you know how to script, you can send the output to text and filter it the information to get what you need. However, all that sucks because in NX-OS you can just do this

show access-lists summary

The output will give you not only what access-lists is tied to what interface, but also the direction the ACL is applied to. You’ll see the configured section and the active session. Just remember, you can configure the ACL on the interface, but if the interface is not IP enabled, or just plain down, it will not be listed in the active section.

Why do VTP in the data center? I have absolutely no explanation for this, it is generally just a bad idea to use VTP to begin with. Perhaps “easy” is one argument, but look at the problems you face with it:

  • Rogue switch with higher revision can screw the network
  • ON some IOS versions, if not all, the VLAN configuration doesn’t reside in the startup-config
  • Rogue switch can be used to gather VLAN information on the network, helping form an inside attack

In a data center you expect a highly available, reliable, and secure computing environment, this is something VTP simply doesn’t offer for a network in the data center. Look at the Nexus lineup, VTP is a feature which is disabled by default! What a great concept, finally! I’ll go ahead and just say it, if you’re using VTP in the data center, you’re just being lazy.

Want to know what subnets are being discovered/learned off a specific interface? The the show ip cef [interface]

wan-gw1#show ip cef ser2/0
nexthop Serial2/0
nexthop Serial2/0
nexthop Serial2/0
.....Lines omitted for brevity

Just that simple, just remember the purpose of CEF, if you forgot, read: Cisco IP CEF Overview

Let’s just get down to business, we all use it but few of us understand what any of it means. The documentation is a little, well, complicated for some people so I aim to give you a better understanding of the Cisco configuration register, also known as the config register or config-reg. Read the rest of this entry »

No doubt every engineer has their own twist on coding something to better automate configurations and deployment on networks; however, with the every increasing pace of release changes to current software sets installed on some vendors hardware, the workload to keep your scripts updated can become your full time job. There will always be two schools of engineer: the home brew and the purchased software schools, each one with their own compelling reason to use the other and why the other is wrong. I, personally, prefer the purchased software route with a small dash of home brew scripts to accomplish my job, very small. I’ll outline some experiences I’ve had in the past where both moving towards the use of purchased software solved the many problems the home brew scripts were giving us and how a small, but powerful, set of home brew scripts gave us complete control over the network from building, deploying, operating, and debugging. Read the rest of this entry »